Another easy product to replace with reusables is menstrual pads or tampons. Instead, you can use cloth menstrual pads or menstrual cups.
I keep saying that using cloth diapers, cloth baby wipes, cloth kitchen towels and other reusable products is easy, but that’s only after you cross over that lack of familiarity to the other side. If you haven’t washed your own menstrual pads before and you haven’t known anyone who has, making that leap to reusable can be intimidating.
If you find the idea of washing cloth pads or inserting a Diva cup intimidating, I suggest that you search YouTube for videos. A lot of women have shared their experiences, and seeing these friendly faces talk you through the process can help you understand the basics of use and care.
Care During Your Period
First of all, be prepared. If you are away from home a lot, be sure that you have a pad or cup in every purse or bag. My Planet Wise mini wet/dry bag is perfect. I love this bag. There are two zippered compartments. I keep clean pads in one side and used pads in the other. Though the bag lays flat with unfolded pads inside, it can also fit folded pads, natural sponges, or menstrual cups.
If you need to carry used pads home, any moisture-resistant, washable bag will do.
Cloth pads. At home, where will you store your pads until you wash? I used to just set them on the floor next to the toilet, which works fine if you have no pets. If you have pets, you need a barrier, like a cabinet door. A lot of women put pads dry into a small, open top bucket or pot then soak them all together at the end of their cycles. If you have pets, you can put this bucket under the sink. I have a small pedal bin with a removable liner. My clever dogs have learned to operate the pedal, so I just turn the pedal toward the wall.
During your period, you just need a place to carry and store your pads safely.
Menstrual Cups. When you use a menstrual cup, just empty the cup, wash it with hot, soapy water, then reuse. If your soap might leave a scent or an oily residue, you can buy liquid soap formulated specifically for menstrual cups. Be sure to wash your hands in hot water before handling your cup.
Care After Your Period
After each cycle, clean your reusable menstrual products thoroughly before you store them.
Cloth pads. Before washing cloth pads, I find it helpful to soak the pads to help release the stains. You can use oxygen bleach, peroxide bleach, or an enzyme soak (which digests organic materials like blood). Do not use hot water, since hot water can set the stains. Keep in mind that dirt and organic material are easier to remove at the same temperature they were when the stain was made. That means, soaking at body temperature is ideal. Leave to soak for several hours at least.
Then, wash on cool or warm (not hot). You can wash with dark clothes or towels, or just wash a small load of pads and underwear.
Dry in the sun to bleach stains naturally or dry with clothes or towels in a dryer.
Menstrual Cups. If you have washed your cup after every use, it should be quite clean, but you may still want to boil it for 5-10 minutes IF this is recommended by the manufacturer. (We sell the DivaCup, which can be boiled carefully.)
Once they are clean, store your menstrual supplies in a clean, dry place in the bathroom. I have a drawer just for pads. Put your menstrual cup in the small bag it came with. This allows air flow.
Caring for reusable menstrual products really is easy. Are you ready to try them out? My favorites are Lunapads. I like the products; I like the company (based in Canada); and I love that this is the product that convinced my teenage daughter to use cloth pads. More on that later this week.